How to Tactfully Postpone a Job Offer

Convey that you're a thoughtful, careful person who is interested in forging a long-term, professional relationship.

Convey that you're a thoughtful, careful person who is interested in forging a long-term, professional relationship.

Most business people appreciate good manners and professionalism, which is why you're in a better position than you might think if you wish to postpone accepting or declining a job offer. Whether you're weighing or anticipating other offers or simply wish to give the job offer more thought, requesting a postponement can be interpreted as a thoughtful, reasoned gesture if you handle the situation with tact and self-confidence.

Clarify the terms of the job offer, including salary and benefits and any other conditions. Make sure that you understand exactly what the offer includes and ask questions if you don’t. It’s one thing to postpone a job offer; it’s quite another to ask for a delay and then realize you don’t fully grasp the details.

Express appreciation for the offer. Thank the caller, whether it's the person who interviewed you or a human resources representative, for the time and effort the company has expended on you thus far.

Say that you need time to “thoughtfully consider” the offer. Explain that you're determined to “ensure the right fit” for both you and the prospective employer and want to “think through” the job offer. For good measure, add that you're looking for a “long-term and successful collaboration,” and a postponement will help you reach the proper conclusion.

Ask for a specific length of time to consider the offer and get back to the company. Don't leave your postponement request open-ended. Two business days, or a Friday-to-Monday postponement, is reasonable. If you think you need more time than that, then perhaps the job really isn’t right for you.

Thank the person for being agreeable to your request. Say that you look forward to talking again at the agreed-upon time and date.

Tip

  • Prepare to be asked if you're considering other job offers, despite the rationale you put forward. After all, some people might be genuinely surprised that you're not jumping at the chance to work for them. Keep your calm and reiterate your wish to maintain your long-term career vision.
 

About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

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